The scarlet-backed flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) is a species of passerine bird in the flowerpecker family Dicaeidae. Sexually dimorphic, the male has navy blue upperparts with a bright red streak down its back from its crown to its tail coverts, while the female and juvenile are predominantly olive green. It is found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and occasionally gardens in a number of countries throughout South and East Asia.
The scarlet-backed flowerpecker was originally described by Linnaeus in 1758 in the 10th edition of his work Systema Naturae, with the binomial name of Certhia cruentata among the treecreepers. It was later reclassified into the flowerpecker genus Dicaeum. The specific epithet cruentatum 'bloodstained' is derived from the Latin verb crǔentare 'to stain with blood'. Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA of 70% of flowerpecker species showed the scarlet-backed and black-fronted flowerpecker (D. igniferum) - which is endemic to the Indonesian Lesser Sunda Islands - to be each other's closest relative; the males of both species have red plumage on their backs.
Measuring 9 cm (3.5 in) and weighing 7 to 8 grams (0.25 to 0.28 oz), the scarlet-backed flowerpecker is a small bird with a short tail. It exhibits sexual dimorphism. The male has a navy blue face, wings and tail, with a broad bright red stripe from its crown to its upper tail coverts. The female is predominantly olive green with a black tail and scarlet upper tail coverts and rump. Both sexes have creamy white underparts, black eyes and legs, and a dark grey arched bill. The juvenile has plumage similar to the female but has an orange bill and lacks the bright red rump.
Distribution and habitat
It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. No global population studies have been undertaken; it is thought to be common throughout most of its range particular in Thailand, although it is considered rare in Bhutan and Nepal. It is found up to 1000 m (3500 ft), in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, wooded areas and gardens. In the north of its range, it is found in southeastern China to Fujian (as the subspecies Dicaeum c. cruentatum). It has been recorded from both native and plantation forest in West Bengal in India.
The scarlet-backed flowerpecker weaves its pouch-shaped nest hanging from a branch high up in a tree. The nest has a side entrance, typical for those of the flowerpecker family.
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